Stereotypes surrounding women in the media have perpetuated since women were allowed to be writers and reporters from the early 1900s. They still persist: women can be seen as purely accessories to men on camera (show room girl), weather presenters who have limited intelligence, or the bossy morning show female. Only in cultural circumstances where the journalism profession is seen as a lower-class, unimportant job do women find equal pay and representation, such as in Bulgaria, where journalists are paid little regardless of gender or position as a result of a long-censored Communist media. These stereotypes allow male gendered individuals to treat women in media positions with less respect than they (and all people) deserve, leading to situations as seen in the video below, where individuals (drunk men) feel that they are at liberty to make derogatory remarks towards a female journalist while passing behind an interview she is in the middle of conducting.
This kind of sexism still seems to be lasting behind the camera and across other forms of media e.g. newspapers. A study published by Women in Journalism (WiJ) in the United Kingdom found that sexist stereotypes in the media are stronger than ever, possibly due to the fact that 78% of all front-page articles in newspapers are written by men, thus reinforcing traditional power structures within the journalism profession and preventing women from accessing the same professional opportunities as men.
Although it may seem common sense to pay women the same amount as their male counterparts for the same job, and give them the same opportunities to better their careers and rise through the ranks, inequality still persists. There’s a reason why the Bechdel test is still highly relevant within the media environment: according to a study conducted by the New York Film Academy, only 10.7% of Hollywood films feature ‘balanced casts where half of the characters are female’, and around a third of women who have speaking roles are made to wear sexually appealing attire. The most depressing and revealing statistic is, however, this: the top ten highest paid female actors earned a collective $181 million dollars in 2013, versus a collective $495 million for the top ten highest paid male actors. That’s almost $300 million dollars difference paid to professionals of the same skill level for similar jobs!
It will be a great day when feminism isn’t needed, and equality simply just… exists. But until that day, we will have to keep ignoring ‘Men’s Rights’ activists and sexists, and pool together our collective tenacity and optimism with the great men out there championing the rights of women to succeed.
NOTE: This post was published in relation to BCM310 Week 8.